Just inside the entrance to Sequoia National Park on Highway 198 (the Generals Highway), the Foothills Visitor Center is the Headquarters for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. This visitor center needs to be your first stop when visiting the park. Not only is it the best spot to speak to rangers and get information about hiking, camping, picnicking, sightseeing, but it is one of the only spots to buy Crystal Cave tour tickets.
We were so excited to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. These two parks are pretty close to our house, yet visiting them has never quite fit into our schedule until now! We stayed in the town of Three Rivers, California for a long four day weekend so we had plenty of time to explore both parks. Our first stop was the Foothills Visitor Center.
The Foothills Visitor Center has exhibits about the Sierra Foothills ecosystem and human history, a bookstore and gift shop with souvenirs, maps, and books, first-aid services, and public restrooms.
The visitor center also provides information on the area’s hiking trails along the Kaweah River and its tributaries. Most trails are accessible year-round.
Know Before You Go
The Foothill Visitor Center:
- The Foothills Visitor Center At Sequoia National Park is located at 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, California 93271. It is the largest visitor center just inside the Ash Mountain Entrance on CA 198.
- It is open daily, year-round. From mid-March to November 30, it is open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. From December 1 to mid-March, the hours are 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
- The visitor center and restrooms are ADA accessible.
- This is the only place to buy Crystal Cave tour tickets before the side road to the cave. Otherwise, you have go to the Lodgepole Visitor Center, 6.5 miles beyond the road to the cave.
- There are picnic areas at the Foothills Visitor Center and Hospital Rock. Picnic areas may be closed because of bear activity or other issues. Picnic areas are not plowed and may be inaccessible when snow is on the ground.
- Wilderness permits are available at the Wilderness Office behind the Foothills Visitor Center. Outside of the summer quota season, wilderness permits can be obtained from a drop box located just outside of the Visitor Center at any time.
About Sequoia National Park:
- Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are basically treated as the same park — even the National Park Service combined both parks into one website.
- The combined area of these two parks is 865,952 acres with most of that area being wilderness backcountry.
- The parks are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Occasionally, winter storms will close roads leading into the parks until they can be plowed.
- Admission fees are good for seven days and both parks. They are $35.00/vehicle, $30.00/motorcycle, $20.00/individual entry on foot or bicycle, $15.00/person for a non-commercial group.
- There are five free admission days: the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the first day of National Park Week, the National Park Service Birthday, National Public Lands Day, and Veterans Day.
- Visitor centers, ranger stations, and a museum offer opportunities to explore the nature and history of these parks, watch park films, and get trip-planning information. Park stores within visitor centers offer books and other products related to the park.
- Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370 feet to 14,494 feet. Bring layers and be prepared!
- Cell service is not available in most areas. You may get service in Grant Grove and at the Foothills Visitor Center. WiFi is available at the Foothills Visitor Center, the Grant Grove Visitor Center, and in the lobby of Wuksachi Lodge.
- Pets are not permitted on any trails at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In campgrounds and picnic areas, pets must be kept on a leash of no more than six feet at all times.